People sometimes get into disputes—maybe two neighbors fight about property lines, or coworkers argue about work distribution. Anger is a natural emotion, but these feelings can get out of hand when someone decides to threaten the other person.
Since a threat doesn’t involve hurting someone, one might think this action isn’t illegal. In most states, however, that isn’t true. Usually, for threats to be illegal, they have to involve dangerous implications, such as injuring or even killing someone.
It’s helpful to know when an argument crosses the line, so you don’t get charged for saying something you didn’t necessarily mean. If you do get charged for making a serious threat, a criminal defense lawyer can help you. At Chaput Law, our experienced attorneys will defend you and fight for your rights as a defendant.
Have you been charged with making criminal threats? Call Chaput Law today to schedule a free consultation.
Criminal Threats in Colorado
In Colorado, making a criminal threat is illegal under various circumstances. Namely, you would have to threaten to cause bodily injury to someone or threaten to kill or stalk them. These offenses can be either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on different factors. Colorado recognizes two categories of illegal threats: menacing and stalking.
Menacing is when you make a serious threat that makes the person you’re threatening think you’ll harm them. Menacing can include threats of serious bodily injury, such as broken bones, fractures, disfigurement, or death. Menacing can also include you making a threat with a deadly weapon like a gun or knife.
A stalking threat is when you seriously threaten to contact, follow, or approach someone or someone they know. Stalking threats can make people feel unsafe or as if you’ll eventually do them physical harm.
It’s important to remember that threats can be written or verbal. If you cause someone to fear for their safety in some way, that can be a threat.
How Can Menacing Be a Felony?
Simple menacing charges start as misdemeanors. They can become felonies if you intentionally intimidate the alleged victim and make them fearful of you. Usually, the prosecutor has to prove you made a credible threat for it to become a felony.
Making a threat with a weapon can result in felony criminal charges. Threats become more authentic and severe when you use a weapon to scare the other person, which is why it can turn into a felony.
Finally, if you threaten serious bodily harm instead of superficial injury, you can be charged with a felony. For example, threatening to punch somebody is less harmful than threatening to disable the person permanently.
Punishments for Threats
The punishment for criminal verbal threats varies depending on the type of threat you make. In Colorado, menacing without a weapon is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by less than one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
If you threaten someone with a weapon, your charge becomes a Class 5 felony with penalties of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
In Colorado, stalking is a Class 5 felony. The punishment for stalking includes up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Typically, penalties for most felonies also involve serving parole for three years.
Defenses for Criminal Threat Charges
An experienced criminal defense attorney can come up with several defenses for your criminal threat charges. For example, menacing charges usually require proof of your intentions to harm someone. If the prosecutor can’t find evidence that you were serious about your threat, they probably won’t have a strong case against you.
Some other defenses include:
- No intentions to cause fear
- Acting in self-defense
- Lack of deadly weapon
- Lack of bodily harm
- False accusations from the victim
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
When a fight gets intense, you might get angry and threaten someone. Even if you don’t intend to hurt someone, threatening can still be considered a crime if a reasonable person feels unsafe by your comments. For example, you can still be convicted if you use intimidating words but have no intention of hurting the person.
You can avoid getting charged for a criminal threat by understanding what does and doesn’t count as an illegal menace. Still, if you’ve been charged with threatening someone, whether menacing or stalking, a criminal defense lawyer can help.
At Chaput Law, our criminal defense lawyers want to serve and protect you. We understand that mistakes happen in the heat of the moment, and we’re here to represent you. Our team can build a case so we can reduce or eliminate your charges.
Call one of our criminal defense lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.